Thanks to friends Carol and Graham kindly offering me a lift towards Diss I was delighted to be able to join them to see the exceptional Katie Spencer once again playing at the beautiful Burston Crown. Carol it was who first introduced me to the music of Katie when she shared a bill with Hot Raisin at one of a special series of events held at the Mo in Sheringham. I have seen Katie once or twice since then but was beaten by the weather around about this time last year, although this afternoon threw rain and hail and gales it was sunny by the time we arrived at Burston where Katie too had just arrived for the latest date on her tour promoting new album Weather Beaten.
An open fire was burning at this wonderfully welcoming and friendly pub and it was good to catch up with Geoffrey again, who was soon at the sound desk getting ready for Katie’s set. Even during her soundcheck I found myself mesmerised.
She played a couple of 45 minute sets to a rapt audience in this bar. Self-taught, she plays with apparent ease but is so accomplished, the guitar such an intrinsic part of her, a natural extension of her self expression and at times she looked as lost in the music and the moment as we all were too. Her playing and singing is so warm, natural and something of real beauty. Most of the material being her originals but with a handful of covers sprinkled here and there. She has written all the songs on the album apart from Spencer the Rover, which she has given her own arrangement to, alongside such as Drinking the Same Water on the positive theme of connection.
Katie is one of those artists who, if there is any justice, should surely reach a very wide audience but for now it is an absolute joy and privilege to experience her magical music in such intimate and beautiful settings as The Burston Crown. Her music is gorgeous and between songs she is charming, witty, warm and engaging. There are influences of Martyn, Jansch, Marling, Ryley Walker et al but she creates something that is uniquely Katie and very special indeed. It’s always a joyous thing to watch and listen to someone who is doing something they were so obviously born to do, flawlessly, this was another wonderful evening of the music of Katie Spencer and the set concluded in the same way as the album does, with The Hunter.
Big thanks to Katie, Geoffrey, Carol and Graham, and a pleasure to meet Jono.
A couple of days earlier,after an uncommonly long gap of about three weeks between gigs, on Friday I paid my first visit to Butcher Bhoy for an International Women’s Day event put together by Elena Traina who was also one of the performers alongside Dandelion Florence and Hot Raisin, both of whom played at The Warwick St. Social at the last gig I attended!
The venue was Bhutcher Ghirl for the first part of the evening with an almost entirely female line-up which did however include Hot Raisin’s Luke but Dandelion Florence was on first and played a really enjoyable solo set, complete with a storming White Rabbit. Elena was next and took us on a musically linguistic tour of the world which included latin and Irish songs, followed by a typically joyous set from a three piece Hot Raisin, with the International Women’s Day section of the evening concluding with some exotic dancing before making way for the Rum Dogs‘ Irish flavoured energetic set. Guinness was flowing freely and there was much dancing, also with one corner of the bar showing the Norwich vs Swansea game live, which Norwich won 1-0 to lift the mood even higher.
Butcher Bhoy is a fascinating and unique space (if a little U2 obsessed with their songs playing between sets and their lyrics and photos on the walls everywhere), I like the way you enter through one of two discreet flights of stairs, one near Thorns and the other at the back of a butcher shop on Exhange Street. In this basement area there’s a fantastic little area that feels like an underground street straight out of Diagon Alley, or a London tube station. Wonderfully surreal to feel at once you are outside and yet inside.
Norwich: Music City, UK. A Norwich playlist of well over 30 hours of local music on Spotify: